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SOFA Chicago 2011 to feature more than 60 international art galleries and dealers
Richard Meitner, PAIN...T (ietsjes kleiner), 2011. Borosilicate glass, painted and fired, 26 x 43 x 4 inches. Meitner Wax Mueller Special Exhibit.

CHICAGO, IL.- The 18th Annual Sculpture Objects and Functional Art Fair, SOFA CHICAGO 2011, enjoys the prestigious position of being the largest and longest continually running international gallery-based art fair in Chicago, a mainstay of the city’s cultural and social calendar. SOFA CHICAGO 2011 + The Intuit Show of Folk & Outsider Art, presented by The Art Fair Company, will share Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 E. Grand Avenue) Friday, Nov. 4 – Sunday, Nov. 6. The SOFA CHICAGO and Intuit Show’s joint Opening Night Preview on Thursday, Nov. 3 will be open to the public from 7 – 9 p.m. with ticket purchase.

SOFA CHICAGO 2011 features more than 60 international art galleries and dealers presenting museum-quality art and design for sale. SOFA galleries bridge a wide range of cultures, art movements and historical periods. SOFA CHICAGO 2011 highlights include:

*Barry Friedman Ltd. (New York) presents exquisite work created by the “father of the art furniture movement,” Wendell Castle. “At age 78, Wendell Castle is at the height of his career and creativity. With decades of experience as his backdrop, Castle's new work is imbued with an animated optimism,” says Barry Friedman Ltd. Director Carole Hochman. “A long record of acclaim, scholarship and steady acquisition by public institutions gives Castle's work indelible historic importance. While the organic, curvilinear forms of this new collection link to many of his past masterworks, there is a confidence and quickness of gesture that suggest a new dimensionality.” Barry Friedman Ltd. will also showcase the highly graphic glass and metalwork of Detroit-born Michael Glancy.

*Bespoke Global (New York) showcases the refined and distinctive line of furniture by Brian Fireman, who became intrigued by the tectonic nature of building while studying architecture. Fireman carves his works by hand, allowing the natural characteristics and beauty of wood to influence his designs. He balances each piece's practical use with its structural, sensual and formal qualities. His work has been widely exhibited and collected, with select pieces being featured in many publications around the world.

*Blue Rain Gallery (Santa Fe, NM) presents exciting glass sculptures by Dante Marioni and Preston Singletary. The two artists share a longstanding history having been high school friends, and this collaborative work is a unique and exceptional fusion of their talents. Utilitarian basket and Italian vessel-like forms are graced with texture, delicate reticello patterns and bold tribal geometry to elegantly bridge two worlds and two unique modalities. Hot sculpted animal forms, a hallmark of Singletary’s work, nimbly climb the exteriors of more classical vessels, functioning as handles and seamlessly taking the place of the ornate Art Deco leaf-like shapes that Marioni typically employs.

*Charon Kransen Arts (New York) showcases jewelry by Julie Blyfield, one of Australia's most celebrated artists whose work is collected by major international museums. “Throughout the past 20 years, Blyfield’s work has presented a fresh, elegant way of perceiving the Australian landscape,” according to Gallery Owner Charon Kransen. “Her latest work was inspired by notions of moving between sea and land, in particular around Kangaroo Island where she collected all sorts of specimens.” Blyfield won the prestigious 2011 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize for her Scintilla Series of artwork, part of which will be shown at SOFA.

*del Mano Gallery (Los Angeles) will present a new “Slipping Stone” series by Robyn Horn. The first piece is titled “Blocked Up” and has been fashioned from maple burl. The second piece entitled “Connected” has been fashioned from a solid piece of redwood. With the “Slipping Stone” series, Horn attempts to convey a cluster of stones positioned to provide a sense of impending collapse. The artist gives the stones as little symmetry and balance as possible, so the viewer is left with a feeling of tension and uncertainty. Each piece is seemingly on the verge of breaking when in fact it is intact and solid. Horn continues the illusion by giving the compositions an appearance of random assemblage, though each is carved from a solid piece of wood. “Every great work of art should evoke an emotional response from the viewer,” says del Mano Partner Ray Leier. “That emotional beckoning is present in each of the works in Robyn Horn’s new ‘Slipping Stone’ series. Each piece emits an uncertainty; a sense of impending doom, a sense that time has stopped for a brief moment. That is what great art is all about.”

The craftsmen at Sam Maloof Woodworking are carrying on the legacy of their late mentor's contribution to the American studio craft movement. Mike Johnson, Larry White and David Wade continue to produce the handmade fine art furniture that Sam Maloof was known for. In addition to his traditional furniture, they have recently added a selection of new work inspired by classic Maloof designs from the 1950s. del Mano Gallery will showcase these new works at SOFA CHICAGO.

*Duane Reed Gallery (St. Louis, MO) is pleased to present the work of acclaimed artist Jun Kaneko. “Surely regarded as one of the most important sculptors working in ceramics today, this varied body of work shows off the extraordinary glazes, shapes and forms well known in Kaneko’s work,” says Gallery Director Duane Reed. Among the anchor pieces to be featured is a large scale 7' tall x 11' wide cobalt blue tile wall entitled “Blue Wall,” which consists of 42 individual tiles that will wrap around the front entrance to the booth - a powerful testament to Kaneko's style and strength.

*Elliott Arts West (Santa Fe, NM) showcases an extraordinary collection of blown glass dating from 1987 to 2011 by renowned artist Richard Marquis, admired for his sophisticated understanding of color and form as much as for his humor and willingness to experiment. Of the many techniques of glassblowing and kiln glass he has mastered, Marquis is perhaps best known for his nonfunctional glass teapots and murrine – the assembled rods that have been heated, fused together, sliced and then usually rebuilt into something else or used as adornment. “Richard Marquis believes in The Whole Elk Theory - he wastes nothing. This philosophy and way of life will keep him working in his studio for many years to come,” says Gallery Director Kate Elliott. “The only question is, when will he run out of ideas for utilizing all that surrounds him? I don’t believe that will ever happen – and therein lies the definition of a true artist.”

*Floating World Gallery (Chicago) presents Kyoto artist Sueharu Fukami, the most significant Japanese ceramist of his generation. Fukami’s work is in more than 40 different public institutions including the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Brooklyn Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. According to Floating World Gallery Director Elias Martin, “Fukami wishes to reveal the 'space' that lies beyond the supple curves and sharp silhouettes of his abstract porcelain works, drenched in the delicate translucency of celadon's pale blue glaze. The triumphant arches and totems borne from his starkly minimal forms represent what cannot be seen superficially: a perpetual circularity of life and the continuity of space itself.”

*Habatat Galleries (Royal Oak, MI) showcases work by Stanislav Libensky, the Czech artist who, according to The New York Times, “transformed glass from tabletop decoration to a serious art form in architecture and sculpture.” Libensky’s massive colored glass castings are scattered around Prague, where they are an integral part of many public works, from the façade of the National Theater to the windows of St. Vitus Cathedral. In the United States, Libensky’s works are in the collections of several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.

*Habatat Galleries (West Palm Beach, FL) presents Australian artists Tanija and Graham Carr, both former architects who have been working in collaboration for more than 25 years. Working primarily in the medium of leather, they produce sculptural forms where ambiguity of shape, surface and material are central to the work. “I have owned Habatat Galleries for more than 38 years and in that time, I have had the opportunity of representing the finest artists working in many mediums,” says Gallery Director Linda Boone. “The work by Tanija and Graham Carr was a standout from the moment I saw it. Their work is the perfect example of art transcending material. The Carrs’ background in architecture, solid aesthetic instincts and fresh enthusiastic approach provides a solid foundation for the creation of some truly remarkable artworks.”

*Heller Gallery (New York) presents extraordinary glass sculptures by Czech-born Vladimira Klumpar. Klumpar’s recent sculptures reexamine nature and bring attention to the enlarged forms and compilations of simple, organic elements. Seeds, leaves, trees, flowers, stems and pods are at the heart of Klumpar’s formal lexicon. GLASS: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly Critic John Drury raves that Klumpar has “learned to paint with light.” “Heller Gallery's first exhibition for Klumpar was held in 1984, and at that time her work held great promise,” according to Douglas Heller. “In the ensuing 27 years, we have watched that promise fulfilled and today she is a mature talent whose cast glass sculptures have an industrial aesthetic that has won her international acclaim.”

*Jane Sauer Gallery (Santa Fe, NM) presents the work of Carol Eckert, Cindy Hickok, Dawn Walden, Carol Shinn and Judith Content. Eckert has been a fiber artist for more than 25 years and has continuously explored animals in their many facets. Eckert’s work has a very distinctive voice that defines the illustrated animals and suggests an open narrative. Dawn Walden's baskets incorporate her traditional Ojibway background into her masterful ability to capture ideas seated in contemporary basket weaving. Her work is structurally magnificent, muscular, and extraordinary in size. Using machine embroidery, Cindy Hickok juxtaposes characters from famous paintings in a manner that makes viewers laugh as they scramble to guess who they are and from where they are known. Carol Shinn's machine embroidered wall pieces appear to be skilled oil paintings at a distance. Close up, viewers realize that the surface is a gathering of small stitches in a spectrum of colors and shades drawing together to create an image. Judith Content constructs large wall panels with a palette of various silk fabrics created using a traditional Japanese dye technique called arashi shibori.

*Kirra Galleries (Melbourne, Australia) presents the innovative work of Tevita Havea, a rising star in the international world of art glass, whose work is influenced by the cultural environment of his native Tonga in the Soloman Islands. “Havea’s work has a genuine individuality. It is a dramatic blend of his Polynesian heritage encompassing customs, mythology and creation stories in glass, fiber, wood and resin,” say Vicki Winter and Suzanne Brett of Kirra Galleries. “The technique in producing his work is labor intensive and no two pieces are the same.”

*KM Fine Arts (Chicago) presents sculptures by two important and legendary American artists, John Chamberlain and Robert Indiana, both of whom are alumna of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since the beginning of his career in the 1950s, Chamberlain has worked with crushed ribbons of steel to construct his sculptures. Chamberlain’s “Rose Tuxedo,” a massive aluminum sculpture acquired directly from his studio that has never been publicly exhibited before, will be displayed at SOFA. KM Fine Arts Director Anna Hollinger describes “Rose Tuxedo” as “delicate and romantic. In our gallery discussions with Chamberlain, he has referred to the fact that this piece is dancing.”

Robert Indiana rose to international prominence more than four decades ago as a seminal figure of the 1960s Pop Art movement. The American public’s embrace of Indiana’s work, arguably unprecedented in the history of contemporary art, began with his proverbial LOVE series. Indiana created a stainless steel HOPE sculpture in 2008 for the Democratic National Convention, donating proceeds from the sale of reproductions of his HOPE image to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and raising more than $1 million for the candidate. KM Fine Arts is bringing a painted aluminum edition of the HOPE sculpture to SOFA. Indiana will attend SOFA’s Opening Night Preview on Thursday, Nov. 3.

*Litvak Gallery (Tel Aviv, Israel) returns to SOFA CHICAGO to display Dale Chihuly’s “White Persians” alongside new “Silvered Soft Cylinders.” Litvak Gallery will also show new work by European artists Peter Bremers, Václav Cigler, Stepan Pala, Zora Palova, Jaromir Rybak and Julius Weiland, in addition to presenting select pieces from the estate of Bohumil Elias, and new work by emerging artists Bohumil Elias, Jr. and Lucas Mjartin.

“Zora Palova, known for her large scale works, has now moved on to smaller scale pieces, putting an emphasis on details,” says Litvak Project Manager Carole Horwood. “Her new series entitled ‘Bridges’ differs in shape from her previous works but shares the motifs of water and the great sea.” Palova will be available at SOFA to meet with collectors.

*Megumi Ogita Gallery (Tokyo, Japan) showcases the innovative work of Takafumi Yagi, who uses colored pencils as the medium to create a series of sculptures. “By assembling and bonding numerous colored pencils, Yagi converts a familiar item into an unusual and sparkling artwork,” says Megumi Ogita Gallery Director Minako Yanagida. “Another attribute of Yagi’s artwork is the instinctive quality of finishes that reminds us of the spirits of Japanese artisans from ancient times. His works always entertain us with their surprising choice of material, the quality of technique used to create them and the vivid concept as a whole.”

*Perimeter Gallery (Chicago) presents contemporary ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu. According to Perimeter Gallery Director Frank Paluch, “Toshiko Takaezu influenced students and artists by example. Her determination, work ethic and aesthetic set the bar for contemporary ceramics.” In her stoneware and porcelain works, some small enough to fit in the palm of one hand, others monoliths more than six feet-tall, Takaezu blends expressive bravura with the calm, meditative quality of traditional Japanese pottery in forms suggestive of acorns, melons or tree trunks. Her work is in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

*Schantz Galleries (Stockbridge, MA) showcases new work by Lino Tagliapietra, the Italian master glassblower. For the past three decades, Tagliapietra has generously shared his unsurpassed experience, understanding and knowledge of traditional Venetian glassblowing techniques with glass artists and audiences around the world. He has been largely responsible for a new renaissance in glassblowing that has swept through the world of studio glassmaking. Tagliapietra has affected the course of glass history by helping to raise the international standards of glass craftsmanship.

*Snyderman-Works Galleries (Philadelphia, PA) exhibits intricate sculptures by Marilyn Pappas, well known for her use of complex line patterns, perspective and shadow. “Pappas’ work is a thoughtful study of classical Greek and Roman goddesses that brilliantly collapses the time span between ancient and contemporary art, yet never loses touch with the spirit of those timeless works,” according to Gallery Director Rick Snyderman.

*TAI Gallery (Santa Fe, NM) presents the gorgeous bamboo work of Yamaguchi Ryuun. Now in his 70s, Ryuun continues to move his artwork forward in dynamic new directions. His latest work, "Vortex," is a stunning sculpture of flowing lines swirling together. “Building on his ideas of layered space and the visual play of line, each sculpture Yamaguchi creates is a sophisticated composition reflecting a deep understanding of material, technique and beauty,” says TAI Gallery Sales Executive Everett Cole.

*Thalen and Thalen (Francorchamps, Belgium), father and son team from Belgium, will exhibit their spectacular large silver vessels and forms, which demonstrate their passion for design and their command of metalsmithing. One object to be presented, the “Rocky Mountain Bowl,” is part of a collection of “poem bowls” that were developed after a visit to the vast landscapes between Chicago and Montana. “In this collection, poetry and literature meet craftsmanship,” according to artist and Gallery Director Rob Thalen. “The power of words is connected to the strengths of silver. Many thousands of hammer beats are necessary to shape each bowl.”

*Traver Gallery (Seattle, WA) will bring exciting new work by John Kiley. Kiley’s work explores sculptural forms in glass, highlighting the optical qualities of the medium by accentuating concavities and convexities. “John Kiley’s work highlights what is most magical about glass,” says Traver Gallery Director Grace Meils. “Pairing the inherently beautiful qualities of the medium with a formalist approach to sculpture, each piece is an exquisite meditation on material, design, connection and separation.” A native of Seattle, Kiley began blowing glass professionally in 1992, at the age of 19. He studied glassblowing at The Pilchuck Glass School, Pratt Fine Arts Center, and Penland School of Crafts. As a principal member of Lino Tagliapietra’s glass blowing team for 15 years, Kiley has taught glassblowing throughout the world.

*Wexler Gallery (Philadelphia, PA) presents the sleek furniture of Vivian Beer, who describes her design process as “sophisticated daydreaming.” According to Gallery Director Lewis Wexler, “When I first saw Vivian Beer's new work, it took my breath away. This young designer/maker is a force to be reckoned with in the design world. Fusing new methods and materials with traditional techniques, Beer's forms are anthropomorphic in nature, often curvy and voluptuous. Beer is influenced by visual cues and ideas that celebrate beauty and power. Her work is both strong in design and concept. Those attending SOFA CHICAGO are going to be in for a real treat.”

SOFA CHICAGO | Annual Sculpture Objects and Functional Art Fair |

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